WASHINGTON — A controversial border policy that was put in place during the pandemic to curb the spread of COVID-19 is set to expire at midnight.
Title 42 allowed authorities to turn away most asylum seekers at the border without offering them a chance to apply for protection.
The Biden administration is bracing for yet another surge of migrants ahead of the lifting of the order.
Around 10,000 migrants have crossed the border a day this week alone, according to border patrol authorities.
Republicans stood united against the Biden administration’s immigration policies on Thursday.
“The chaos on our southern border continues to accelerate,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK). “This administration has not done what it needed to do.”
Our Washington News Bureau spoke one-on-one with Blas Nuñez-Neto, Acting Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy for the Biden administration.
“Secretary Mayorkas has said that the border is secure and that the border is not open. But when the American people watch these images of the migrants in such large numbers crossing the border, 10,000 people a day this week, how do you respond to critics who say it very much looks like the border is open?” asked Washington Correspondent Samantha Manning.
“I would say that we are enforcing the laws that Congress has enacted at the border and those laws give people the right to claim asylum,” said Nuñez-Neto. “We are seeing historic flows of people to the border from countries that we are not used to seeing. Historically, migration has been from Mexico and the northern triangle countries. Today we are seeing thousands of Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Brazilians and our immigration system and our laws were not created to really handle these kinds of flows and so what I would say to people is they should write their members of Congress and ask them to get serious about reforming our broken immigration system.”
In response to Title 42 ending, the Biden administration announced a new asylum policy that largely bars migrants who passed through another country to seek asylum in the U.S.
It’s a change that is facing backlash from immigration rights supporters.
“With this final rule, the Biden administration has officially abandoned its commitment and obligation to rebuild the U.S. asylum system and uphold our country’s historic commitment to offer refuge to people fleeing persecution,” said National Immigrant Justice Center Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy in a statement.
“Immigration supporters say this is essentially returning to the Trump administration era policies and they’re saying it’s breaking the president’s campaign promise to restore asylum. How does the administration respond to that criticism?” Manning asked Nuñez-Neto.
“We obviously disagree with that point of view,” said Nuñez-Neto. “The previous administration implemented a total bar on people who transited through third countries. What we are doing is substantially different because our regulation essentially creates a presumption of ineligibility that can be overcome by migrants, and it also pairs that presumption of ineligibility with like I said a historic increase in lawful channels and pathways for people to come to the U.S. if they wish to claim asylum… We are committed to expanding lawful pathways and access to the United States for people who may wish to seek asylum but there has to be consequences for unlawful entry.”
The Biden administration said it’s up to Congress to pass immigration reform legislation to come up with a long-term solution to address the crisis at the border.
But both parties remain strongly divided over what the solution should be to address immigration reform.
House Republicans are taking up a bill that would bring back the construction of the border wall and tighten asylum eligibility among other changes, but President Biden has said he would not support that measure.
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